Tip of the Spear: Maroon Communities in South America


Dr. Kmt Shockley and Kofi LeNiles provided an engaging and interactive African centered history workshop for ninth grade students at Friendship Technology Preparatory Academy. At the core of their workshop was the history and culture of a maroon community called Palenque San Basilio (Palenque). Palenque is located in Colombia, South America and is the focus of their upcoming documentary entitled "For Humanity: Culture, Community and Maroonage."

Students were a bit skeptical when Dr. Shockley asked probing questions to gather information about their background knowledge of Black history. However, the mood of the classroom transformed and students became enthralled in the discussion when Dr. Shockley started talking about the original name of Egypt —"Kmt" meaning “Land of the Blacks.”

Dr. Shockley talked about the enslavement of African people, their determination to free themselves and the development of maroon communities (free societies formed by Blacks who escaped enslavement) throughout the Americas. Through oral storytelling, as Kofi played the drums, students learned about an African King named Benkos Bioho who was forced into slavery and brought to Colombia where he escaped and founded Palenque.

After the drumming and oral history activities, Dr. Shockley engaged the students in an African (Black) history activity. Dr. Shockley provided students with a mini-lecture about a variety of thriving African civilizations that existed before Benkos Bioho and the enslavement of Africans. Following which students engaged in a gallery walk with quotes from the African diaspora that seem to defy time and evoke emotions.

Students were instructed to stand next to the quote they connected with most and talk to their peers who selected the same quote. Next, students shared their responses with the entire class. One student said, “We talked a lot about how a lot of our history (that is Black history) has not been taught and each day we can learn more about it.”

Students were shown the first four minutes of the documentary entitled "For Humanity, Culture, Community and Maroonage" and given time for a brief Q&A with Dr. Shockley and Kofi about why they made the film.

As the class ended, it was evident that students wanted to learn more about Black history and maroon communities. One student asked when the film would be completed so that the class could view it in full.

Dr. Shockley and Kofi hope to bring their workshop and film to more classrooms and they are working on a live production of the film. For more information about the documentary, the workshop, and the production please visit their facebook, twitter, or Instagram or email them at: tipofthespeardocumentaries@gmail.com.

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FridayMykella Palmer